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POLITICS

Swedish parliament to vote on Stefan Löfven as prime minister

Acting Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who was ousted last month in a historic no-confidence vote, will get a new chance at convincing the Swedish parliament to accept his government.

Swedish parliament to vote on Stefan Löfven as prime minister
Parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén and acting Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

The speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén, told a press conference on Monday that he would nominate Social Democrat leader Löfven as prime minister, after opposition rival Ulf Kristersson of the Moderate Party last week failed in his attempts to form a new government.

This means parliament on Wednesday will vote on whether or not to reinstate Löfven as prime minister. If successful, the centre-left leader would then be able to step back into the role on Friday.

What may seem like a political game of musical chairs comes after Löfven lost a vote of no confidence on June 21st, following a row with the Left Party over rental laws. Löfven then resigned, triggering a round of talks between party leaders and the speaker, who has the role of proposing prime minister candidates based on an assessment of what a government backed by a parliamentary majority could look like.

If Löfven is voted back in, it will likely be with a wafer-thin margin. He will need 175 members of parliament to either vote for him or abstain (in other words, a prime minister candidate does not need a majority to vote for them, as long as the majority does not vote against them).

But the Swedish parliament is split almost right down the middle. Including independent members closely linked to their former parties, the parties on the right of the spectrum (the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Sweden Democrats) together have 174 seats, while the parties to the left (the Social Democrats, Green Party, and Left Party) reach a total of 175 with the support of the Centre Party.

It would only take one person choosing to go against party lines, or indeed to be absent for the vote, for the balance to shift.

And even if Löfven is successful on Wednesday, he will likely have a rocky year ahead of him in the run-up to Sweden’s next general election in September 2022. He has not yet secured support for his autumn budget, with the Centre Party refusing to collaborate with the government’s other potential allies in the Left Party on a budget. Löfven has said he will again resign if his budget proposal falls.

You can catch up with Sweden’s government crisis in The Local’s articles below, or by listening to our podcast Sweden in Focus.

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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: I’ve got election pork coming out my ears this week

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren rounds up this week's key talking points of the Swedish election campaign.

Sweden Elects: I've got election pork coming out my ears this week

There’s an old Swedish Word of the Day in The Local’s archives: valfläsk (literally “election pork”, or pork barrel politics).

This week, there’s been enough of it to feed a Swedish town large enough for both a Biltema and a Dressmann store and still have half the pig left!

You could say it started the week before last, when the Social Democrats’ Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman floated a test balloon loaded with a 50-percent cap on non-Nordic residents in troubled neighbourhoods (it went down among the other parties like it was made out of lead).

Then last week, the Liberals threw their hat in the ring by proposing mandatory language assessments for two-year-olds who don’t attend preschool, and then make preschool mandatory for the toddlers whose Swedish isn’t deemed good enough. This, they said, was meant to help integration in areas where bilingual children don’t speak Swedish at home.

“Studies show that early preschool benefits children whose mothers are low-educated and whose parents are born abroad,” their manifesto read.

Liberal leader Johan Pehrson’s statement that in the most extreme cases – where parents clearly refuse to let their children learn Swedish – led to a social media storm that conjured up images of crying toddlers being taken into care for failing to distinguish between en and ett when quizzed.

For any parents of multilingual children (who know better than most how language works in early childhood – I’m raising a multilingual baby myself, but I’ve only just started so if you have any tips, do let me know!), I should stress that the proposal is less extreme than how it was first presented.

This is typical for valfläsk, by the way. Take something that’s perfectly obvious and hard to argue against (of course mixed neighbourhoods and children being encouraged to learn languages are generally good things) but dial it up a notch, insert something immigration-related, promise to get tough on whatever it is you want to get tough on, and propose either something that already exists or would be near-impossible to implement.

Then the Stockholm branch of the conservative Moderates proposed that entire school classes in vulnerable areas should be screened for ADHD through optional rapid tests, in order to increase the comparably lower rate of medication among foreign-born children and prevent them from falling into a life of crime.

“Detached from reality,” said their Social Democrat rival and pointed out that the partly Moderate-run region was planning to cut the number of psychiatric care clinics for young people.

The Christian Democrats, never ones to be outdone, wanted to chemically castrate sex offenders, give police access to healthcare biobanks, and let police take DNA samples from people stopped in internal border checks.

But while many of the election pledges that get tossed around this close to the election (less than a month to go, now!) tend to range from the radical to the ridiculous and are unlikely to ever be implemented, they’re still worth paying attention to. They give us an indication of the direction the parties want to take, and could well reappear in a more watered-down format later on during the governmental cycle.

They may also become part of post-election negotiations, where even small parties hold key cards as the larger parties fight to cobble together viable government coalitions.

They also say something about Sweden and the direction of the political sphere as a whole, where the parties are currently racing to outdo each other on who can be toughest on immigration and law and order.

The Local’s reporter Becky Waterton has gone through all the parties’ election pledges to see how they specifically would affect foreign residents in Sweden – in case you’ve missed her article, click here to read it.

Also in the world of Swedish politics, a new poll by SVT and Novus has the Moderates and the Sweden Democrats neck and neck, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson promised lower taxes in his summer speech and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson tougher sentences on gang criminals in hers, and Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson suggested changing the name of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) to the Penal Office (Straffverket).

Sweden Elects is a new weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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